[photopress:highspeedtrain.jpg,full,alignright]The news is that the national social security fund is likely to invest in the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail link and other railway projects. Note that the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail link, although a definite project, does not, as yet, have a definite timetable.
The China Financial News reports the fund and the Ministry of Railways are currently in negotiations about the investment. The investment is probably needed because huge investments promised by insurers fell short of ministry estimates.
Zhou Yanli, deputy chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission said a total of RMB40 billion ($5 billion) from insurance companies has been approved for investment in the project. This is only half what the ministry expected, since the ministry and the commission agreed two months ago that it needed RMB80 billion($10 billion) from the insurance business for the project.
The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway project is estimated to cost at least RMB130 billion yuan ($16.25 billion dollars) and that is just according to the initial plan. Initial budgets have a habit of over-running.
Liang Chenggu, news officer with the Ministry of Railways, said, ‘The initial budget was made according to past experience that building 1 kilometre of high-speed track usually costs RMB100 million yuan ($12 million.) But the investment may increase along with the growing price of real estate and resettlement costs.’
The China Financial News quoted an insider saying that the Beijing-Shanghai railway will cost at least RMB170 billion ($21.25 billion). It also said that if three related projects are included in the final bill, the total cost could exceed RMB200 billion($25 billion).
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is studying a feasibility report on the Beijing-Shanghai railway project although it approved the proposal to build the high-speed railway in March 2006, after more than a decade of debate on what technology the railway should use.
In theory, the 1,320-kilometer line is expected to be completed and go into operation in 2010, when Shanghai hosts the World Expo. With a designed speed of 300 kilometres per hour and a maximum speed of 350 kilometres, the railway will shorten travel time between the two cites from 13 hours to less than five.
But an official with the Ministry of Railways said no specific timetable is now available for work to begin on the 1,320-km-long high-speed railway. Nor is any official data available for the investment needed by the railroad project.
Some thing are happening already.
One of the three independent projects related to the high-speed railway, Dashengguan Yangtze River Bridge, is now under construction, with investment estimated at RMB4.8 billion yuan ($607.6 million). The bridge design includes six railtracks, two for the Beijing-Shanghai railroad, two for the Shanghai-Wuhan-Chengdu railway and two more for subway services in Nanjing, capital city of east China’s Jiangsu Province.
Sources: Xinhua and China Daily.
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